MoMA Apologizes for Denying Entry to Visitor with Keffiyeh: ‘We Made a Mistake’ - The World News

MoMA Apologizes for Denying Entry to Visitor with Keffiyeh: ‘We Made a Mistake’

The Museum of Modern Art in New York has apologized for refusing entry to two visitors who said museum security told them they could not enter the institution with a keffiyeh, a head scarf that has commonly functioned as a symbol of Palestinian liberation. 

In a statement shared with ARTnews, and first published in part by Hyperallergic, a museum spokesperson said: “Following a visitor’s social media post, we implemented our established process for onsite incident review. After gathering all available information, we determined that a keffiyeh carried inside a visitor’s bag was misidentified as a banner during bag screening. We made a mistake and we apologize. Keffiyehs are not, and have never been, on the Museum’s list of prohibited items. We have worked with staff to ensure our guidelines and training on this are clear, and we reached out to the visitor to apologize.” 

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A sculpture composed of suspended crystal beads with a projector in front of them. Large screens showing an image of the beads and the mountains hang around it.

On Saturday, March 16, Ju-Hyun Park, a Brooklyn-based independent writer, said on X/Twitter that they and a friend were denied entry to the museum because of the black and white scarf in Park’s bag. In subsequent interviews with Hyperallergic and Middle East Eye, Park said security staff had flagged a supervisor after spotting the scarf, and the pair were turned away, allegedly without receiving a reason for the decision.

Park called the incident a “brazenly racist anti-Palestinian policy” on X.

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Whitney Museum, New York cultural institutions have become stages for demonstrations against Israeli’s military actions in Gaza since the October 7 Hamas attack. In February, hundreds of pro-Palestine demonstrators gathered in MoMA’s atrium to call for a permanent ceasefire to the war in Gaza. Images and videos posted on Instagram showed the protestors brandishing banners that read “Free Palestine, From the River to the Sea,” “Ceasefire Now”, “Cultural Workers Stand with Gaza,” and other phrases.

Over 1,000 custom-printed mock museum guides were accused several MoMA board members of “directly [funding] Zionist occupation via arms manufacturing, lobbying, and corporate investment.”

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